U.S. Journalist Jason Rezaian in Evin Prison

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of Jason. It breaks my heart to think about what he is going through in Iran’s prison. I know he’s innocent of all accusations. I know that petitions don’t always work but if you have a minute please take the time to sign his petition. I just did. It’s the least we can do to help in any way we can to get him released.

Please sign this petition

Here is also an interview with Jason’s brother:

Golshifteh poses naked

Golshifteh Farahani, a famous Iranian actress, who also played in Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio and recently left Iran, has posed topless in an ad for Cesar Academy – roughly the French equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Cool video – best of 2011. Here’s to a fantastic 2012!

Hikers jailed in Iran have head back to US

Finally they are free! What a relief.

Basij Protesting?

Another interesting piece of news has emerged. The Basiji who went around after the 2009 election beating protesters up with batons are now themselves protesting.

From Scott Lucas’ blog:

“Yeah there are protests in Urmia and Tabriz over the ecological disaster, but you think those are the only malcontents in Iran? As Karmand News points out, there are a whole lot of plain-clothes enforcers who haven’t gotten paid in a long time. And let me promise you, those skulls won’t crack themselves, so if Ahmadinejad wants to put down the other protests — you know, the ones by troublesome opposition and Greens — he better pick up a baton or pay up.

“On the morning of 26 July 2011, around 150 Basijis from Kermanshah gathered outside of the Majlis building in Tehran to protest not being paid wages. According to one protester, although Ahmadinejad agreed in 2006 that Basijis should receive at least a wage equivalent to that of lower-level government employee, they have yet to be paid a salary. They are instead given only a small sum once per year.

“Furthermore, according to the 5th Development Plan [for 2010 to 2015], Basijis who fought in the Iran-Iraq War and were on the front lines for more than a year are eligible to receive a pension and health benefits. The Basijis, however, have yet to receive these benefits.”

Protests, shrinking lake

New protests in Iran. This time in Tabriz over the drying out of lake Urmia. Last month, Iran’s parliament refused to fast-track a rescue plan for the lake, which is what has trigged the series of protests. Per BBC, the rejected proposal envisaged feeding the lake with water from the River Araz, about 70km (45 miles) to the north.

From Scott Lucas’ blog:

“There is something different about these protests. The demonstrations that started after the elections in 2009 were driven by a desire for real democracy; freedom of speech, expression, religion, and assembly; and a general discontent at the state of life in Iran, especially among the youth.

This spate of dissent and anger has been propelled by a specific environmental issue that is growing in its economic impact. As Lake Urmia dries, the ecological disaster is disrupting trade and industries that relied on the lake, and it is affecting the health of the residents. These issues are more urgent, more immediate, and as a result, the protest over them may catch on faster and spread further.

In Arab Spring, the catalysts for unrest were economic, though the goals of the protesters always include democratic ends. These protests are coming from a similar place, as government policies result in real economic hardship in the cities and towns affected by the lake. Economic drivers, plus political drivers, led to the fall of three governments. This is ultimately the largest threat to the Iranian regime.”

Iran sentences U.S. hikers to 8 years in prison

The Iranian government is now sentencing the two hikers to 8 years in prison. Two kids, whose life is in danger of being wasted for 8 years, for doing nothing but going for a hike. But then again when has the Iranian government been fair? It treats its own people horribly let alone Americans.

I communicated with Josh’s family while helping translate one of their videos for them and I found them to be so kind and genuine. This news must’ve shaken them up badly. What a sad day indeed.

“Divanegi” – a song (with clips from Kiarostami’s film)

divanegi (music) from ravan va jahan on Vimeo.

Maz Jobrani on TED

Bahrain Documentary: “Shouting in the Dark”

Scott Lucas puts up a report by Al Jazeera on the rise and fall of this spring’s uprising in Bahrain: “This is the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.”

Warning: there are some disturbing scenes in this movie.